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There are 5 Classes of Fires, Do you know the right Fire Extinguisher to use?

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While fire can seem like one big threatening force, it’s important to know that there are actually several classes of fires. A fire’s class can determine how quickly it burns, how dangerous it is, and the best way to suppress or put it out. The 5 different classes of fires each have their own best approach to put them out safely and effectively.

Class A Fires: “Ordinary” Fires

Class A fires are the most common of the 5 different classes of fires. They occur when common combustible materials like wood, paper, fabric, trash, and light plastics catch fire. These accidental fires are ubiquitous across a variety of industries, so it’s recommended to have adequate protection against “ordinary” fires in addition to other condition-specific fires.

Class B Fires: Liquids & Gases

Class B fires involve flammable liquids and gases, especially fuels like petroleum or petroleum-based products such as gasoline, paint, and kerosene. Other gases that are highly flammable are propane and butane, which are common causes of Class B fires. The best way to deal with these types of fires is by smothering them or removing oxygen using foam or CO2 fire suppression equipment.

Class C Fires: Electrical Fires

Electrical fires fall under Class C and are common in facilities that make heavy use of electrical equipment, but they can occur in a wide range of industries. For example, data centers might be an obvious risk area for Class C fires. They must have safeguards in place to deal with electrical fires.

Class D Fires: Metallic Fires

Class D fires are not as common as the other classes, but they do require special attention because they can be especially difficult to extinguish. Metallic fires involve flammable materials like titanium, aluminum, magnesium, and potassium — all commonly occurring in laboratories.

Class K Fires: Grease Fires or Cooking Fires

Class K fires involve flammable liquids, similar to Class B fires, but are specifically related to food service and the restaurant industry. These common fires start from the combustion of liquid cooking materials including grease, oils, and vegetable and animal fats.

When it comes to choosing the right fire extinguisher, no single type of extinguisher is fully effective on every kind of fire. So before buying a fire extinguisher, it is vital to look carefully at what type of fire you could possibly have to deal with. Choosing the wrong type of fire extinguisher for the job can be very dangerous, make the fire worse and risk injuring those attempting to fight the fire.

Which fire extinguisher types to use

  • Class A fires – water, water mist, foam, dry powder, wet chemical

  • Class B – water mist, foam, dry powder, CO2, some wet chemical

  • Class C – water mist, dry powder

  • Class D – specialist dry powder

  • Electrical – water mist, foam, CO2

  • Class F – water mist, wet chemical.



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